Friday, September 11, 2009

Church on the Spilled Blood

We had the pleasure of going to the Church on the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. You just don't get any more Russian these onion domes! This church is now hands down my very favorite outside of the USA. It literally took my breath away on the outside and again bowled me over on the inside.This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. After assuming power in 1855 in the wake of Russia’s disastrous defeat in the Crimean war against Britain, France and Turkey, Alexander II initiated a number of reforms. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were almost enslaved to their owners) from their ties to their masters and undertook a rigorous program of military, judicial and urban reforms, never before attempted in Russia. However, during the second half of his reign Alexander II grew wary of the dangers of his system of reforms, having only barely survived a series of attempts on his life, including an explosion in the Winter Palace and the derailment of a train. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage. The decision was taken to build a church on the spot where the Emperor was mortally wounded. The construction of the church was almost entirely funded by the Imperial family and thousands of private donations. Both the interior and exterior of the church is decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day. Interestingly, despite the church’s very obviously Russian aspect, its principle architect, A. Parland, was not even Russian by birth. The church was closed for services in the 1930s, when the Bolsheviks went on an offensive against religion and destroyed churches all over the country. It remained closed and under restoration for over 30 years and was finally re-opened in 1997 in all its dazzling former glory. I cannot begin to describe and I don't think the pictures can do justice to the interior of this church. All of these photos are of tiny, colorful mosaics.Here you can get the idea a little better of the tiny flecks of gold adorning every inch of the building.And as gorgeous as the tiles are up close, when you step back it is enough to give you goosebumps. The church is enormous and alive with color and design. I just couldn't stop snapping photos and it is impossible for me to figure out which of these is my favorite to edit them down.It is hard for me to believe we were really there!
Oh what a place. And what a perfect day for us to relish in its beauty.

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